New Money Gets Old in China: The Institute Sarita

Sara Jane Ho

China’s blazing economic growth over the last decade has created a newly minted millionaire (and billionaire) class eager to live the good life. This has led to an influx of luxury retail brands, five-star hotels, gourmet restaurants, and over-the-top nightclubs ready to cater to the parvenue who’ve just hit it big in manufacturing, construction, whatever.

Private jets are being customized and yachts are snapped up like loose change on the sidewalk. One new mogul recently purchased a $100 million home above Hong Kong and is planning to tear it down so he can, in his words, “build something really nice.”

While such conspicuous consumption maybe all the rage in some quarters–and garner the predictable media attention–other members of the new upper class are investing time and money elsewhere.

The Institute Sarita, based in Beijing, offers etiquette classes (and more) in what may be Asia’s first finishing school for young ladies. Sara Jane Ho, the proprietor, knows of what she speaks. A native of Hong Kong, she attended prep school in New England before graduating from Georgetown and Harvard, with a Swiss finishing school education in between.

The institute offers new money the opportunity to distinguish itself, not in net worth but in social graces. Intelligent people know that no boom lasts forever. Best to invest in something you can take with you, and that will only increase in value over time. Education and etiquette are two of these, and may be the most prized.

Almost every major city in the world has etiquette classes. Many have finishing schools. Investigate those in your area.

Take a class. Raise your standards. Up your game.


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